Knows Nose Nos: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 111
Brain Cave - Stuck In The Mud - Tiny God Inc. - 10 songs - cassette, digital
I believe this is my second review of Brain Cave– I know I reviewed their first tape a couple years ago. They've released a few things since then, but we'll catch back up with them here. The familiar face here is singer/guitarist Mike Bellis, who was also the bassist and then the guitarist of The Roobydocks and was the guitarist in Bulsch at some point too. Brain Cave does not sound like either of those bands. Generally speaking, I'd call it alternative rock– some of it is post-hardcore, some of it has some definite emo characteristics, there are some grunge moments, and at times they even work in some gothy moves. This kind of thing isn't generally my kind of thing, but after a few listens, this started to grow on me. My favorites were probably "Bar Seat No. 1," "Salt Lick," and "Moved Obstacle." People for whom this is more their cup of tea will probably find a lot to like here, but even I (an idiot) enjoyed it. 3/5
Rubella - Barn Burners - Landfill Records - 12 songs - cassette, digital
Here's the latest from prolific local group Rubella. The email I got regarding this tape described it as 'dystopian synth pop' or something to that effect and yeah, that works for me. I think the only instruments on here are drums and synths– or perhaps I've been fooled and the drums are actually synths too. It's pretty dark stuff, I wouldn't say moody or melancholic necessarily but more edgy, sometimes menacing ("Blood Bucket" is a good example), and…I don't know. Volatile, maybe. Parts of this really remind me of Lost Sounds, other parts I don't find dissimilar to Brainiac. Someone more into the Dark Entries kind of stuff could probably make closer comparisons, but yeah, it's a lot of synths and it's pretty heavy stuff. The lyrics are generally unhappy (a reminder that Rubella's motto is 'life in general is suffering,' which tells you all you need to know about the tone here) and the vocals, even when there's some energy behind them, sound resigned. "Razor's Edge" namedrops the Hilliard Bridge which sounded so familiar that I went and checked the lyric sheet from the last Rubella release I reviewed to see if they were repeating a song and nope, they just have multiple songs where they talk about the Hilliard Bridge. Actually, come to think of it, I think I caught the phrase 'razor's edge' somewhere on that lyric sheet as well. I guess it's good to have some themes you go back to. On the first half, my favorite was probably "Bad Energy" and on the second half, I really liked the closing three tracks: "Flash Flood," an eerie industrial instrumental with, indeed, a flash flood warning playing over it, which genuinely did work as a scary track; "Kill Grid" continues the spooky musical theme and I have to assume Gregory (Rubella's lead member) saw those 5G kill grid posters all over Lakewood a year or two ago; and closing along the same pretty chilling lines with "Devil's Tower." Rubella have their zone that they basically keep making consistent music in, and I've gotta respect them for that. 3/5
Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email email@example.com or send it directly to the Observer: PO Box 770203, Lakewood, OH 44107.